Facet joints are the joints between the vertebrae. They allow and prevent movement through the spine.
If the facet joints get jarred or knocked, or if the spine is held in an unusual position for a prolonged period of time, the joints can become stiff. This causes inflammation in the area, and pain.
Inflammation and restrictions in facet joints can be acutely painful.
The pain can be very similar to the pain of a disc prolapse or torn muscle. It can be quite frightening and is often mis-diagnosed as a trapped nerve by friends and family.
Quite often people can point very clearly to the origin of the pain when they have facet problems. But if the pain is associated with a muscle spasm (link to muscle spasm) the pain maybe more diffuse.
Pain from facet joints in the neck may radiate into the shoulder.
Pain from facet joints in the lower back may radiate into the groin or the buttock.
If the pain is severe it may affect a nerve, which can give you the symptoms of a trapped nerve (LINK). This means that sometimes the pain you feel from a facet joint is in your hand or in your leg such as with sciatica.
Facet joint issues are often caused by sudden twisting, reaching forwards at a funny angle, sleeping in a strange position, or lifting something heavy.
Our aim with a facet joint problem is to try to work out why you have the pain so that you can prevent it from coming back.